Generating Happiness worldwide, one HUG at a time!



Horrible writing skills here, unedited version, I'm still working on it.  Cheers!!!  :P

I truly believe that hugging someone makes a difference, not just theirs, but yours too; it definitely has made a difference in mine.  I remember my first "FREE HUG" experience like it was yesterday. It is still one of the best nights of my life... 
I was in Bangkok, Thailand on the 65th day of my 7 month backpacking journey around the world.  Thailand was not even on my itinerary but a CouchSurfer I stayed with in Istanbul,Turkey convinced me I HAD to go to check it out.  With little convincing I was on my first detour of my trip, best one ever.    It was November 28th, 2012 and Thailand was celebrating Loi Krathong, that holiday where they make their "floating crowns", Krathongs, out of flowers and banana leafs and light thousands of sky lanterns, Khom Loi; letting go of the bad luck and bad feelings of that year and welcoming good luck and happiness for the upcoming year.  That night I meet with about 50 other backpackers and local couch surfers for the celebration.  One of them was named Sunny, a very slim, crazy haired guy with amazing energy; I think he noticed that I was outgoing as well so he requested my assistance.  He asked me if i could help him give out "FREE HUGS".  and I said "HELL YEAH I'll help!"

So we just started to give HUGS to everyone around us, even random strangers, welllllll we're all strangers because we've only just meet a few hours before, but you can see what I mean.  It was freaking amazeballs, it felt AWESOME, and that was just the beginning of our evening, the rest I probably can write a book about it.... so that's how I learned about "FREE HUGS" or just giving hugs to random strangers. I actually didn't learn the full story about the movement until about a year after my first experience.

The Free Hugs campaign in its present form was started by Juan Mann on June 30, 2004 when he began giving out hugs in the Pitt Street Mall in central Sydney. In the months prior to this, Mann had been feeling depressed and lonely as a result of numerous personal difficulties. However, a random hug from a stranger made an enormous difference, with Mann stating that "...I went out to a party one night and a completely random person came up to me and gave me a hug. I felt like a king! It was greatest thing that ever happened." Mann carried the now iconic "FREE HUGS" sign from the outset. However on his first attempt in his hometown, where he returned to find that he was the only person he knew, as his friends and family had moved away, he had to wait fifteen minutes before an elderly lady came up to him and gave him a hug.  And that's how it began, you can read more about it here.  

Yeah I know that the FREE HUGS thing has been done before, but who cares, everything has been DONE before.  Would you tell a singer, there are just too many singers out there and to find something else to do? Same goes to this amazing idea,  who does not like to get a hug, a smile, a compliment, just a random act of kindness?  It took 8 years and to be on the other side of the planet for me to find out about it, I honestly don't think it has been done enough.  Ever since "my first time", hugging strangers that is (haha) I've been fascinated by it, not just because of the hugs, but because it has allowed me to experience the most amazing moments of my life and it has brought me to this.  I want for everyone to experience those amazing moments too.  My goal for this project is to share this idea with more and more people around the planet.  Its not just the hugging part, but the other rippling effects that come along with it, the humility, generosity, kindness and love.  Hugging is just one of the many ways to happiness.

With LOVE and Super Hugs! 

Johanna "Jo" Mantilla